COLUMBUS, Ohio — Throughout the month of September, Spectrum News will highlight key races in both the state's House and Senate.
The 89th House District in northern Ohio includes Erie and Ottawa counties. The matchup features a current state rep who was appointed a little more than a year ago and a small business owner who has her eyes on the prize.y
Democrat Alexis Miller, a former aide at the Statehouse, says when people called her and needed help, she gave them the answers. Meanwhile, Republican Rep. D.J Swearingen (Huron) says the past 13 months have been "trial by fire" and he admits he has never run in an election of this magnitude.
In his short time in office, Swearingen says he was happy to have voted for aid to first responders dealing with PTSD, expanded broadband internet access and ending surprise billing in the health care system.
"I always joke that I have 115,000 bosses. I work for them. They're the taxpayers and making sure that their needs are met and that effort will continue into the next General Assembly," says Swearingen.
Swearingen was appointed by House Republicans in June of last year to replace Rep. Steve Arndt after Arndt resigned. Swearingen had been serving on the Erie County Board of Elections. He says his top priority is workforce development through education.
"Those are very good paying jobs, and they're very much in demand and kids need to know about those options going forward," Swearingen says.
Miller worked her way up in the Ohio House and Senate from intern to senior legislative aide. She also touts her background working for nonprofit and private businesses.
"I think politician talk all the time about x, y, z and few of them actually have the skills to do it so I'm the only person in the race who has experience in the job longer than just an appointment,” says Miller.
Miller says her main focus is getting Ohioans better access to affordable health care especially amidst the pandemic. She says there are several ways to do it.
“Protecting Medicaid expansion so that our most vulnerable populations have access to healthcare and for seniors, doing whatever we can to keep the cost of prescription drugs down is really important,” Miller says.
Both candidates agree all Ohioans need to wear masks and each say they are committed to combating systemic racism.
“I am a straight white lady, and I can’t ever know what it’s like to be anything that I am not so I try to use my platform and my privilege to make a difference whatever that may be,” says Miller.
"I'm open to listening to people who've that have experienced that type of oppression and to the extent they have that type of oppression we do need to something about that because it's an injustice that's out there," says Swearingen.